OHS Matters: Returning to Work

 

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"My employer has started to make noises about us
gradually returning to work. What are some of the issues
we need to be aware of?"

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Backbone of Our Movement: Can Yalcinkiya

Can Yalcinkaya, NTEU
Rank and file member

How long have you been a union member?

7 years.

Why did you join the union?

I was a long-time casual tutor and I wanted to find out about the NTEU’s plans to address the increasing casualisation in higher education. I also wanted to be part of a movement that is based on solidarity and improving the conditions of workers.

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Analysis: The Capitalists Are Not United

 

The Capitalists Are Not United

 

It is now the end of May and so far, COVID-19 has been cited as the cause of death for about 350,000 people worldwide and has infected about 5.5 million people. The global response to the pandemic has been variable, but most countries have introduced some form of shut down measures, which include social distancing and business closures. The economic fallout has been severe. Many businesses will be wiped out, and some industries will take years to recover.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Pier Moro

 

Piergiorgio (Pier) Moro, Australia Services Union VicTas A&S Workplace delegate and a HSR

 

How long have you been a union member?

I’ve been a member with the ASU for 28 years. I have had shorter stints with other unions.

 

Why did you join the union?

It just seemed the obvious thing to do really. Two major reasons.

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OHS Matters: Working From Home

 

“I am working in administration. I am a casual, now working from home. Does the company I am working for have to provide me with an ergonomic office chair?”

 

Unfortunately, there is nothing specifically in the law that requires an employer to provide the equipment necessary, for someone to work from home. However, under Victoria’s OHS Act (and similar acts in other jurisdictions), the employer DOES have a legal duty to employees (including casual employees) to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. This is called the ‘general duty of care’ and applies to everything: the workplace, the equipment, the systems of work, supervision and training, and so on. But it is qualified by ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

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Analysis

 

The world is still reeling from the shock and speed of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social and economic ruin it has brought. Whilst the impact of the pandemic has been uneven, the best outcomes in terms of saving lives have been achieved in those countries which have prioritised communities achieving effective physical distancing to stop the spread of the virus over enabling businesses to make profits. In all countries, the virus has caused considerable economic disruption, and businesses and governments have begun to push to reopen economies and to shift the crisis onto working people. While this push will not necessarily be successful, to effectively resist this move, it is important that we understand the current crisis and the attacks which are likely to be launched against workers.

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